Japan is one of the world’s largest and most influential nations, but it is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In many ways, Japan meets the criteria for NATO membership and has a vested interest in the security of the region. However, there are several pros and cons to consider when examining the potential for Japan to join the alliance. This article will take a look at the various arguments for and against Japan joining NATO and the implications of such a move for the future of international security. It will also explore the potential risks and rewards that Japan could experience by becoming a member of NATO. Through a careful review of the evidence, readers can develop an informed opinion on the issue and decide if Japan should be a part of NATO.
Is Japan Part of NATO?
Japan is not a member of NATO. Japan has its own security alliance with the United States, known as the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which was signed in 1951 and revised in 1960. The treaty obligates the United States to defend Japan if it is attacked. The treaty also allows for U.S. military bases in Japan to support the defense of both countries.
What Is NATO?
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance that was formed in 1949 by a group of Western nations. The original “founding nine” members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In the years following, several more countries joined, including Greece (1952), Turkey (1952), the Federal Republic of Germany (1955), Spain (1962), Portugal (1962), Norway (1949), and Belgium (1949). In 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland became the last three countries to join NATO.
Japanese Interests In NATO
- Japan has been working to strengthen its security alliance with the United States. Japan and the United States signed a new defense cooperation agreement in April 2015 that allows for the sharing of military intelligence. The new agreement is intended to provide a legal framework for Japan to exercise collective self-defense, or the right of a country to use military force to defend an ally under attack.
- Japan also participated in NATO’s air campaign in Libya in 2011, and it has been considering participating in future NATO missions.
- Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also expressed interest in revising the country’s pacifist constitution so that it allows for Japanese participation in international peacekeeping operations and other nonmilitary activities abroad. This includes participating in peacekeeping missions through NATO or U.S.-led coalitions, as well as joining UN-led peacekeeping missions.
- In December 2015, Prime Minister Abe signed an agreement to work more closely with NATO on maritime security issues. This was the first agreement of its kind between Japan and NATO.
- In 2016, Japan’s defense minister Gen Nakatani met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and proposed that Japan participate in NATO’s mission to train Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State (ISIS).
- In 2017, Prime Minister Abe said that Japan would continue to work with the United States and other countries to prevent North Korea from developing long-range missiles that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons. He also said that he would like to see more concrete steps taken by China, including stronger sanctions against North Korea.
- During the 2018 G-7 summit, Prime Minister Abe called on the other countries to join Japan in applying pressure on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
- Japan has also expressed an interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement among 12 countries that was negotiated by the Obama administration. The Trump administration withdrew from the TPP in 2017, but Japan hopes to revive the agreement without U.S. involvement.
- In 2018, Japan and the U.S. signed a new defense cooperation agreement that allows the two countries to cooperate on military exercises and to share more classified military information in response to China’s growing military strength in the region.
- Prime Minister Abe has said that he wants Japan to play a greater role in resolving regional disputes, including territorial disputes with China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. He also said that he wants Japan to play a greater role in maintaining stability by supporting countries such as Singapore and Indonesia, which are concerned about Chinese encroachment on their territory.
Pros Of Japan Joining NATO
- Strengthens Japan’s Security Alliance with the U.S.
- Promotes Stability in East Asia
- Promotes Democracy in Asia
- Encourages Trade and Investment between Japan and NATO Member States
- Strengthens Geopolitical Alliances in the Region
- Promotes a Multilateral Approach to International Security
- Promotes the Development of Civilian Capabilities
- Affirms Japan’s Commitment to Peace and Democracy
Cons Of Japan Joining NATO
- The cost of the alliance would be high and the effect on Japan’s economy could be negative, thus hurting Japanese people.
- The United States would have more influence over Japan, making it a puppet of the U.S.
- Japan might see itself as a secondary power, not being able to have its own standing in the world
- It would never be able to get out of its alliance with the United States because America is always there for Japan.
- The United States may use Japan as an ally against China or Russia and make them pay more than they should for protecting it from China or Russia
- The United States may use Japan as a base to attack other countries.
- The United States may use Japan as a base to threaten other countries that do not want the U.S. in their country
- Japan would have to get rid of the right-wing military government that has been ruling it for decades and replaced it with a liberal party, which may not be able to stop America from using Japan against its enemies or use it as an ally against them
- It will be more difficult for Japan to make itself known in the world and make itself respected . In order for a country to join NATO , it must have at least 2/3 of its parliament’s approval . If Japan joins NATO, I doubt that it will get 2/3 approval because most Japanese people are against joining NATO because they fear the U.S.’s influence on their country would be too strong and they would lose some of their sovereignty and independence .
- Nowadays, the U.S. is not a good influence on Japan and Japan is becoming more independent and powerful, so joining NATO may make Japan a puppet of the U.S.
Potential Risks And Rewards For Japan
- The U.S. bases are a potential source of instability in the region, and they may be a safety valve for Japanese nationalism.
- The U.S. military presence is a symbol of the U.S.-Japan alliance, and it is important for Japan to have such a relationship with the United States.
- While the bases are non-nuclear, they are still capable of being used offensively if necessary, and their presence will increase Japan’s defense budget by $1 billion per year (as of 2008).
- Japan has been working on increasing its military capabilities over the last few years (e.g., building up its own submarine fleet). This could lead to a build-up of forces at U.S.-controlled bases if Japan feels threatened by North Korea or China; however, this would likely increase tensions with China in East Asia, which would be unhelpful for both countries involved and likely to lead to increased violence in that area.
- The bases could be a source of instability in the region if Japan and China ever got into a conflict.
- The bases are likely to weaken Japan’s ties with South Korea, which could make it more difficult to resolve conflicts between the two countries.
- The bases could lessen Tokyo’s ties with Beijing, which might make it harder for Tokyo to cooperate on issues such as North Korea and climate change.
- The bases are likely to increase China’s suspicions of Japan, which may lead to increased tensions between the two countries in East Asia in the future if not managed properly (see #3).
Although there are some advantages to Japan joining NATO, there are also significant risks and potential downsides. This article has explored the pros and cons of Japan becoming a member of the alliance and has identified several potential risks and rewards that could result from the move. Overall, readers can see that there are both advantages and disadvantages to Japan joining NATO and that the country could experience both positive and negative outcomes as a result of the decision.